I've never been a big "let's go drive somewhere over the three-day holiday weekend" kinda guy, and with gas at $4 per gallon, a stay-at-home Memorial day weekend sure makes a lot more sense anyway. The weather gods smiled on the Baltimore-Washington area for the holiday, with blue skies, temperatures in the 70s and not a drop of rain in sight. The movie gods also cooperated, with some good opening night opportunities for evening activities.
I started the weekend with a hilly 32 mile bike ride through Montgomery and Howard counties, stopping at the new "House of Flavors" in Highland for an expensive coffee and a bagel. I did the Haviland Mill hill both ways for my first granny gear test of the year - I could do the hills in 3rd gear, so I'm starting out the bicycling year a little bit ahead of last year anyway. Though, 7 miles an hour isn't much faster than 5 mph. This route passes by about 7 different coffee shops (only one of them a Starbucks) so some day I will map out a tour de java where every 7 miles or so you get another jolt of caffeine.
I followed that up with an 8 mile kayak training run on Rocky Gorge Reservoir, where I concentrated on trying to do every stroke the right way. Lots of herons and turtles out, and the one bald eagle, to watch me as I tried to keep both hands high, both upper arms bent, both hips rotating, both lower arms straight, both paddles fully in the water - oh, and sit up, and forcibly stab the paddle in the water, too. I made some progress - without really trying to push it, I got my standard time of 1:28 (5.5 mph average) down to 1:24 (5.8 mph). Maybe I will make some progress in doing less thrashing and more actual boat propulsion. That put me in a good frame of mind as Carole and I joined some friends to go see the new "Indiana Jones" movie (many thumbs up if your thumbs like Indiana Jones movies, which they probably do) and a really good dinner at the Aida Bistro in Columbia (many tongues up if you are one of those who eat.)
Sunday morning was the standard "bicycle with Carl" day and we decided to check on the Gwynns Fall Trail which had opened a new segment from the Park and Ride lot at I70 and the Baltimore Beltway. This is a very odd trail, mixing in new paved segments along the river with riding on abandoned roads with riding on dirt paths through the woods with riding on open heavily trafficked streets through urban Baltimore. It goes all the way down to the Inner Harbor, but we only did the northern, more rural part. The new northernmost section includes several switchbacks and lots of brand new landscaping - it will be a good looking trail section when that all matures. About 5 miles in some fire trucks up on the road were spraying their fire hoses over the trail into the river, for some reason - this created a mini-waterfall that had us puzzled for bit, but they stopped spraying as we sat there deciding what to do.
We went as far south as Carroll Park, home of the Mt. Clare mansion that dates from 1760. The Gwynns Falls route beyond that is basically mostly on streets, except for a few sections of paved path that get you under the Baltimore Beltway. It is a fun way to bike into Baltimore's Inner Harbor, if you are so inclined, but it ain't scenic - nice view of the Greyhound bus station, though. On the way back, we detoured to do the abandoned road section to beeyootiful Dickeysville, MD - a town that seems to have been isolated in time and remained unchanged for 100 years. Even though there is a tree down across the trail, it is well worth the 2 mile detour. We then headed back north and chugged back up those new switchbacks, for a ride total just shy of 20 miles. You can stretch this out to about 35 miles round trip if you go all the way to the southern end.
Later that night, Carole and I (along with Jim and Jacquie) did another dinner and a movie night, seeing "Son of Rambow", a weird British movie. Half a thumb up, if you like oddball movies with lots of kid actors with British accents using all kinds of British slang as they do all kinds of things you hope your kids never do.
The next day it was back to paddling. Jerry and Marie had mapped out a paddle on the Monocacy River, starting at a launch ramp north of Frederick, MD (essentially in the parking lot of a WalMart!) and ending at at Pinecliff Park, 6.7 miles downstream. With all the rain we've had in May, the river flow was about 50% above normal which gave us a nice downstream assist. We saw lots of herons and other birds, and one river otter - a first for most of us. The river is largely isolated from development, but you do go past the discharges from a few water treatment plants and you get to experience that nice minty fresh smell. At this water level you hit a few small rapids, probably Class I at best, which added a bit of fun. I lead the way through many of them and cleverly lead Carole and me to run aground at one point after passing under a bridge. However, we quickly moved on and enjoyed a nice float, er paddle down the river. A quick (but huge) bite to eat at the breakfast buffet at the Four Seasons in Mt. Airy, and a quick viewing of the fancy bicycles at the Mt. Airy Bicycles shop and a very nice Memorial Day weekend drew to a close.
The Googlefied map of the paddle: